Rethinking office construction Saves $1m+

The cost savings of using timber in office construction, described in the first release of this title, surprised many industry observers and saw timber systems considered for an increasing number of projects. Now, this revised edition brings the timber design in line with the 2016 changes to the Building Code of Australia for Fire-protected timber solutions. Pricing has also been revised to reflect late 2017 market conditions. (Spoiler alert – The timber solution was found to be at least $1,141,845 more cost effective, which equates to a 13.6% saving compared to the concrete solution.)

Timber’s sustainability credentials and construction advantages are attracting world-wide interest and, combined with advances in timber manufacturing, are making timber systems increasingly cost-competitive, as this revised Cost Guide demonstrates.

“To encourage the design and construction sectors to evaluate other material options, hard evidence is required,” said Eileen Newbury, National Marketing and Communications Manager for Forest and Wood Products Australia, the industry services company that resources WoodSolutions, “this Cost Guide and others in the series provide a factual basis on which people can justify examining their material choices.”

Aimed at people involved in the decision chain (such as; cost managers, estimators, design professionals, developers and project managers), the Guide presents a comprehensive model that demonstrates the significant added value that timber construction systems offer mid-rise office projects.

The Guide is based on a research project that developed a model mid-rise office building and a corresponding timber solution, and compared it with conventional concrete construction. The timber solution was designed to optimise functional performance, constructability and cost effectiveness and provide guidance for compliance under the National Construction Code (NCC) for Class 5 office buildings. An explanatory understanding of decision making issues when developing timber solutions is also included.

“The savings are remarkable,” said Ms Newbury, “The timber solution was not only found to be $1,141,845 more cost effective, but that figure didn’t include many other potential cost savings such as smaller footings, decreased crane and scaffolding requirements and faster time to first fix.”

In Australia, we are beginning to see the savings of timber in office building projects put into practice. Timber developments include International House at Sydney’s Bangaroo South by Tzannes Architects and Lendlease and 25 King Street in Brisbane – which at 45 metres is set to become the world’s tallest timber office building – by Bates Smart and Lendlease.

“It’s an exciting time to be working with timber building systems,” said Paolo Lavisci, a timber specialist and Program Development Manager with the WoodSolutions Mid-rise Construction team, “we are finding more and more development, design and construction professionals are looking to timber as an alternative – and they are largely motivated by potential cost savings.”

The new Cost Guide and the rest of the 40+ titles in the WoodSolutions Design Guide library are available for free download from the WoodSolutions website at